Customer relationship management software (CRM) is a tool used heavily by sales professionals—not so much by freelancers for writing jobs.
But these sales reps use it to make sure they stay on top of their leads and prospects, getting in touch with the right people at the right time so they can close more sales for their company.
The thing is, CRMs are used almost exclusively by sales professionals, and hardly anyone in any other job function touches that type of software. I know I haven’t touched one since college, when I was working on sales for a non-profit, which was at least six years ago.
But as I mentioned in my post on growing your income as a freelancer in 2016, I’d signed up for a business coaching program to keep myself accountable and get advice from coaches and other service-based entrepreneurs on expanding my business.
And for me, this was where all that changed.
The program I signed up for was the Book Yourself Solid Mentoring Program which is based directly on Michael Port’s book, Book Yourself Solid. (You can see why the name alone was appealing to me, can’t you? I think we’d all love to be booked solid with writing jobs.)
I read the book first, and to be honest, didn’t totally buy into the suggestion that networking was both more important and more necessary than online marketing, especially in my line of work.
And call it serendipity if you want to, but around the same time, I met a woman who makes $20,000 per month with absolutely zero online marketing. Twenty grand a month.
Even though her line of work wasn’t specifically marketing-focused, it was very business-focused. I knew her success had something to do with this person-to-person networking thing, so I decided to give it a shot.
Within the Book Yourself Solid system, Port suggests having two lists of people you network with: a “Network of 90,” made up of people you know well enough that they’d agree to have lunch with you, and a “List of 20″—people you don’t know yet, but you want to know.
Neither list has to have exactly 90 or 20 (mine currently stand at 16 and 15, respectively), but the idea is to simply get started with the lists so you can build them over time.
According to the program, each business day you take about 30 minutes to reach out to three people on your list of 90 and one person on your list of 20—either thanking them for their work, recognizing them for an accomplishment, making an introduction, or suggesting something you think would be valuable to them.
You use the CRM to keep track of those interactions and get notified when 30 days have gone by since your last interaction with a person… so you’ll reach out to them again.
So far, my messages have been super basic—often times nothing more than “I’ve noticed we’re in a few of the same Slack groups and I really like your work. Just wanted to say hi!”
But the effect it’s had on my business is astonishing.
It’s been one month since I’ve been actively using the CRM, and even though my lists aren’t nearly as long as they should be, here’s what my results have been:
Not to mention, I’m meeting and making meaningful connections with loads of other really cool people, which is just a pleasure in and of itself. But these people are also really smart, and the potential to work together in the future is very real.
I’m definitely sticking with it.
I’m not sure if the CRM I’m using right now is the best for my needs, but it’s definitely not the worst. I’ll stick with them for now and experiment down the line as I see fit. (If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments.)
However, I think the results I’ve seen in just one month are way too good to ignore the validity of this approach. Not to mention how good they’ll actually be when I actually get my lists fully fleshed out.
And if you’re reading this article and thinking it might be a good idea for you—let me just dispel your doubts and tell you that it is. This is such a wonderful strategy for any service-based freelancer, and I only wish I’d started implementing it sooner. (Plus, most of these tools offer some sort of free trial, so you really can’t go wrong to at least try it.)
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